The long, ever-changing landscape of the TikTok drama with the Trump administration at least has one chapter now closed: Microsoft. On late Sunday, Microsoft announced the news in a terse public statement. The full statement from Microsoft reads in full:
ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users while protecting national security interests. To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas.
The New York Times sheds light on the story noting that this leaves only Oracle in the running – a company with public allegiance to Trump. While an odd fit, Oracle likely has the capital to do something with the popular social network. Both ByteDance and Oracle declined to comment to the New York Times.
While no apparent reason was revealed as to why TikTok rejected Microsoft’s bid, the Times reported the US takeover’s breadth would have to be significant for Microsoft, making ByteDance skittish:
The Chinese regulations helped scuttle the effort by Microsoft, which said the only way it could both protect the privacy of TikTok users in the United States and prevent Beijing from using the app as a venue for disinformation was to take over the computer source code underlying the app, and the algorithms that determine what videos are seen by the 100 million Americans who use it each month.
Oracle, at least publicly, has not committed to such stringent changes.
The TikTok soap opera with Microsoft began on August 6th. The saga quickly spiraled into madness after that with Walmart entering the fray, Bill Gates chiming in, and plenty of impromptu demands from the Trump administration (not to mention China).
For now, Microsoft appears to have dodged a bullet that may have been politically unpopular in the long term.
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